I had a coffee date last week with someone who has just started the divorce process, including finally realizing the ex had already moved on without him. As we chatted about life after marriage, I was reminded of my own post-marriage realizations.

 I chose to move 1,600 miles away from my ex-husband during the divorce process – something that I highly encourage to those that have the option. It eliminates the temptation to do foolish things in moments of weakness. Barring either one of you being a diaper-wearing crazed astronaut – you aren’t likely to take a 24 hour road trip just to torture yourself. 

When I arrived in Denver, I was so focused on finding a job and keeping a roof over my head, I barely had a moment to wonder what else was going on.  It was no wonder that I failed to notice a huge gap in my life.

My hug meter was low.

Many people never have to think about their hug meters. Throughout their week they encounter individuals that they can hug freely, who greet them arms open wide.  This isn’t always so for those that experience major life changes. In my case, relocating to a totally new city meant that my social circle had been reduced to co-workers I had just met and men I was dating.  Hugging the first could lead to an HR issue, hugging the second could lead to mixed signals and unwanted advances. Friendly hugs are a valuable commodity among many single adults.  A huge help for me was when I started babysitting a coworker’s son.  He was a huge hugger and filled up my meter fairly quickly.  Not everyone has that option though, and if you go to playgrounds to randomly hug kids you can get in trouble.

Nonsexual physical affection can be even rarer.  I remember once sitting on a couch with a man I was dating.  While we talked, I was absentmindedly running my fingers through his hair, running my finger over the ridge of his ear, tracing his jaw with my index finger.  I was chatting along, not even realizing what I was doing, when suddenly tears rolled down from his eyes. 

I can’t remember the last time someone just wanted to sit and touch me,” he said, “without there being some kind of other intent involved.”

That moment just struck me to the core.

First, because I knew what that felt like.  Secondly, it was so easy to fix. Nowadays I make a more concentrated effort to give out friendly hugs and hand squeezes and just general affection.  It’s not always natural at first, but you never know what impact that simple gesture can make.   It could be the difference between someone’s hug meter going from empty to full.